Robin Swicord

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The Promise Review

Very Good

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. Turkey has long denied that this took place, so the filmmakers take a rather soft approach to the story, setting out a romantic plotline with the genocide as a backdrop. So the resulting drama is somewhat uneven, but the events are so powerful that the film can't be ignored.

It opens in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire is collapsing. Mikael (Oscar Isaac) is a young Armenian studying medicine in Constantinople with a promised fiancee Maral (Angela Sarafyan) back home. Even so, he falls for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who shares his rural Armenian background. But she has a boyfriend, Chris (Christian Bale), who is investigating rumours of war as the Germans arrive to help the Turkish government round up its ethnic minorities. Mikael is soon arrested, but escapes from the work camp to return to his parents (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Kevork Malikyan) and Maral. Meanwhile, Chris and Ana are trying to report the story of what's really happening, and Mikael joins them to help a group of orphan refugees.

Yes, this is a sweeping epic in which there's a lot going on, and it's filmed on a lavish scale. The characters' lives continually intersect throughout the story, and the intensity of the wartime atrocities is seriously powerful. On the other hand, this makes the four-sided romance feel like a melodramatic distraction. The actors are solid, but the earnest tone undermines any real emotional edge. Isaac is sincere and decent, Le Bon is strong and wilful, Bale is solid and cynical, and Sarafyan is lost in the shuffle. Aghdashloo, as always, provides wrenching support.

Continue reading: The Promise Review

Robin Swicord Friday 20th February 2009 Women in Film's 2nd Annual Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party held at a private residence in Bel Air Los Angeles, California

Robin Swicord
Robin Swicord

The Jane Austen Book Club Review


Bad
You need neither a deep appreciation for author Jane Austen nor an understanding of her six novels to recognize that The Jane Austen Book Club stinks.

A chick-lit-flick, Book Club is poorly directed by Robin Swicord from her own inconsistent adaptation of Karen Jay Fowler's novel about five women (and one coerced man) who use Austen's novels as a means to escape their broken lives. They cover one book a month, and we roll our eyes as their individual problems mirror the quandaries found in Austen's chapters.

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Robin Swicord Thursday 20th September 2007 Los Angeles film premiere of 'The Jane Austen Book Club' held at ArcLight Theatre - Arrivals Hollywood, California

Robin Swicord

Memoirs Of A Geisha Review


Weak
The only thing which director Rob Marshall doesn't throw into Memoirs of a Geisha is a torch song in which the heroines can lament their sad fates; it might have been an improvement if he had. Adapted from Arthur Golden's 1997 bestselling novel, the film is about Sayuri, a young girl in pre-war Japan sold into servitude at a Kyoto okiya, or geisha house. Although interesting as drama, the book was beloved for its depiction of this long-gone culture's intricate rituals, and the grueling training and subterfuge which the geisha indulged in to succeed. Since much of that material is better suited for the page than the screen, the film blows up the book's more melodramatic moments (and there were plenty of them) into a cliched soap opera of thwarted love, backstabbing and really pretty outfits.

Marshall gives the film, especially its early scenes where Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang) gets schooled in the hard-knock ways of the okiya, a goodly amount of sound and fury that has more than a hint of Spielberg to it (the original director of the project, he stayed on as producer). Having one of the world's most photogenic period settings, Marshall makes all that he can of it, and the results are astonishing. This is a film of fluttering cherry blossoms and dark alleyways lit by paper lanterns, where all houses have their own deftly-maintained garden and everyone is dressed to the nines. The problem is that no amount of amped-up drama or pretty window-dressing can make up for the fact that the phenomenally talented cast has been stuck with hackneyed dialogue to deliver in English - a first language for none of them.

Continue reading: Memoirs Of A Geisha Review

The Perez Family Review


Bad
How can you have a Perez family without Rosie? Put aside the fact that Tomei and Huston are decidedly not Cuban, I had to read a plot summary to find out this was supposed to be a comedy. Oh really, now? This story, adapted from a novel, picks up the fragments of at least four Perezes, Cuban refugees who find themselves inventing a "family" to better gain political asylum. The plot centers around Molina's search for long-list (real) wife Huston, only he falls in love with slut Tomei, while Huston falls for cop Palminteri. Poor Trini Alvarado is wasted as Huston's wide-eyed sidekick. Everyone else is wasted on a hopelessly dull story which positively puts you to sleep.

Little Women (1994) Review


Excellent
Hollywood did put out one decent flick over the 1994 holidays, and that was Little Women, another remake of Louisa May Alcott's famed novel. Winona Ryder steals the show, and most of the supporting cast are perfect. The story of Little Women is given a new breath of life with this film, and it is still as relevant about our place in the world and overcoming its man-made obstacles as it was when it was written. I mean, I'm like, you know, a guy... and I really dug the movie. Alvarado and Mathis shine above an altogether good cast (while Danes disappoints).

Practical Magic Review


Good
Why do titles have to be so ironic? Not to say that Practical Magic is an oxymoron, some of the camera tricks that they have are nice and neat. But the movie itself is neither practical nore magic, which it would so much like us to believe. It's not a witchcraft movie, it's not a female bonding movie, or a family movie. It's not much of a romance, it's not much of a thriller. It's not much of a PG-13 horror, either. What it is is OK. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's one of those movies that I kind of just sat through. I was a passive participant. I didn't even get to make my usual comments picking on it while I watched it (except for one). It's not a waste of your time, if you have time to kill. It's not a bad movie to take some witches to: I can say its religiously accurate. But what use is that?

Continue reading: Practical Magic Review

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Robin Swicord Movies

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

The Jane Austen Book Club Movie Review

The Jane Austen Book Club Movie Review

You need neither a deep appreciation for author Jane Austen nor an understanding of her...

Memoirs of a Geisha Movie Review

Memoirs of a Geisha Movie Review

The only thing which director Rob Marshall doesn't throw into Memoirs of a Geisha is...

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